Deterministic and stochastic allele specific gene expression in single mouse blastomeres

PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e21208. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0021208. Epub 2011 Jun 23.


Stochastic and deterministic allele specific gene expression (ASE) might influence single cell phenotype, but the extent and nature of the phenomenon at the onset of early mouse development is unknown. Here we performed single cell RNA-Seq analysis of single blastomeres of mouse embryos, which revealed significant changes in the transcriptome. Importantly, over half of the transcripts with detectable genetic polymorphisms exhibit ASE, most notably, individual blastomeres from the same two-cell embryo show similar pattern of ASE. However, about 6% of them exhibit stochastic expression, indicated by altered expression ratio between the two alleles. Thus, we demonstrate that ASE is both deterministic and stochastic in early blastomeres. Furthermore, we also found that 1,718 genes express two isoforms with different lengths of 3'UTRs, with the shorter one on average 5-6 times more abundant in early blastomeres compared to the transcripts in epiblast cells, suggesting that microRNA mediated regulation of gene expression acquires increasing importance as development progresses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3' Untranslated Regions / genetics
  • Alleles*
  • Allelic Imbalance / genetics
  • Alternative Splicing / genetics
  • Animals
  • Blastocyst / cytology
  • Blastocyst / metabolism
  • Blastomeres / cytology*
  • Blastomeres / metabolism*
  • Embryonic Development / genetics
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Mice
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics
  • RNA, Untranslated / metabolism
  • Stochastic Processes


  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • MicroRNAs
  • Protein Isoforms
  • RNA, Untranslated